ROADS/BRIDGES: The aisle is wide and parties divide over Mich. truck weight debate

The state currently tolerates nearly double the average weights of any other U.S. state

Trucks News December 04, 2014
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With roads seemingly crumbling everywhere, the demand placed on those roads is a logical bone of contention—notably in the state of Michigan, where lawmakers have decided that truck weight restrictions are just fine the way they are.
 
A bill introduced by State Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) called for a cut in the maximum weight a semi-truck can carry from 164,000 lb to 80,000 lb. The bill was brought to the state Senate floor without a committee hearing and was summarily rejected by a vote of 15 to 22, a margin that nearly perfectly reflected a divide of political party lines. Only Republican Sens. Jack Brandenburg, Tory Rocca and Patrick Colbeck crossed the aisle to side with Senate Democrats, all of whom uniformly backed the measure. Remaining Republicans, with the backing of the trucking industry, bore the muscle to keep the bill from reaching the desk of Gov. Rick Synder, a fellow Republican.
 
While the new regulations would have increased revenues to the state by requiring an additional 8,000 to 10,000 trucks to be registered, as well as increased registration fees overall by $1,660 per year, they would also, according to analysis done on behalf of the Michigan Department of Transportation, cause more maintenance needs on the state's roads.
 
Larger trucks, those capable of trafficking more than 150,000 lb of weight, spread their load weight over 11 axles, while 80,000 lb loadbearers can spread weight over only five axles. Lighter loads would mean more trucks on the road, thus requiring additional road maintenance. Therefore, MDOT opposed the bill bon the grounds that it would not only harm Michigan's roads, but hurt the trucking industry as well because present fleets are designed to match Michigan's present weight limits.
 
"The damage to the Michigan economy is unknown, but would be significant. Although the 12,000 trucks registered for over 80,000 pounds are a small fraction of total trucks, they are inordinately important to Michigan's most basic industries," said Jeff Cranson, spokesman for MDOT, in a statement. "If this bill were enacted, about 12,000 trucks owned by Michigan firms would be rendered valueless, and would have to be supplemented by an additional 8,000 to 10,000 new vehicles.”
 
Things look to stay heavy and stay on the move up north for the foreseeable future.

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